Porcelain Jewellery Making Workshop with Kinska At Mellisa Flagship Store

The other day I was lucky enough to attend a workshop run by talented ceramicist and artist Kinska at Melissa London Flagship Store

 

kinska
kinska workshop at melissa

I've been a fan of Kinska and her beautiful ceramic creations for a long time, as well as plastic and beautiful Melissa shoes, so it was an absolutely perfect pairing of the workshop and location.

kinska workshop ceramics
kinska porcelain

Kinska taught us how to create beads from porcelain and think outside of the box in terms of shapes and sizes, it was quite easy as we were inspired and surrounded by her work.

ceramic snake cute
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I made a snake bead and some plain tiny beads to match. Can't wait to see them fired! snake

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Thank you so much for the workshop Kinska and for having us in your beautiful shop Melissa!

🎨✏️STUDIO ✏️🎨

Hey guys! 

How are you?

I'm really good! Have you heard the news (I've been on it non stop for the last couple of months but just in case) about my new studio?

andsmilestudio

For someone who worked from home for the whole of my freelance career getting a studio was a big dream of mine. I've been full time self-employed for the last 4 years and my studio consisted of a corner of a room with lots of storage and cool organising solutions. Which was absolutely fantastic but things changed (I'll go into detail about it at some point in the future) and after a summer trip to Ghent, I came back full of energy, excitement and optimism and stumbled upon a tweet from a fellow illustrator who was looking for studio neighbors. Couldn't believe my luck! Studio in west London, affordable rent, wonderful neighbors, beautiful building, light.. ohh, just a dream! After several months of waiting, I signed the contract and officially became part of Kindred Studios !!! HORRRAYYYYY!!!!

The space took some work, repainting the walls, removing the floors (4 layers and thousands of nails), putting in some plants and thrifted tea trolly it's now dare I say a beauuuutyyyy! The building is filled with artists of all sorts (ceramicists, printmakers, musicians, sculptors and many many more). We even have our own lovely cafe with warm and delicious meals and cakes. Each day at 1 o'clock rings a bell inviting us all to go down to the canteen and share some food. The grand hall is under construction (future events space) and workshop space will be available for hire soon.

Would you like to have a look? Come in! 

I'm sharing the most wonderful room with the most amazing people Matt (illustrator), Diane (printmaker) & Carolina (printmaker). 

It's such a pleasure to work from. Just having a space purely for work and creativity is such a joy! 

Keep an eye on my events page for Open Doors Day!

Do you work from home? Studio? Did you enjoy seeing my space? :)

Girl Power! 🌸✊🏻✊🏼✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿

Girl Power Print is one of my most popular products and one which started as a tribute to women for 8th of March International Women's Day. I decided to create an illustration featuring all the amazing women whom I admire, who inspire me, who remind me every day to keep going, who empower me and show me the way ;) Past & present. Real and fictional. That's my tribute :)

 After researching each woman I cried, I felt all the feelings, I felt both invincible & vulnerable, unbreakable and optimistic. 💪🏻💪🏼💪🏽💪🏾 One illustration is not enough space to fit all the fantastic women and I already plan to do another one. Please drop a line here with women who inspire you. 

Girl Power Illustration by viktorija semjonova andsmilestudio
Source: http://shopandsmilestudio.com/products/gir...

Packing light: Art supplies

I'm the kind of person who packs clothes & personal belongings in 15 minutes for the trip and then spends a couple of hours deciding on which sketchbooks and art materials to pack. But I after many trips to museums, parks and holidays I perfected my traveling set up.

I consider myself to be a light packer. A couple of years ago I traveled for 16 days from London to Brussels - Amsterdam - Riga - Stockholm - Copenhagen - Berlin - Paris - London with a kanken standard sized backpack and on my last trip I was going to Ghent & Amsterdam with my brompton bike and a large kanken. So when choosing art supplies I'm balancing taking things which don't take up too much space but are the materials I enjoy using the most

Packing light, how to travel with your favourite art supplies. Gouache and pencils in the palette. by viktorija semjonova andsmilestudio

 

My art set up now consists of: 

Miello Palette: it has a small tray which you can take out and rubber around the edges, so when closed it becomes airtight. I prefer using gouache these days and taking many tubes with me is not an option. I've tried just squeezing the paint into plastic travel sets but gouache dries quickly and then when a lot of walking and traveling is involved it just crumbles and goes all over the place. This palette keeps gouache wet for around one week and a half. So I squeeze pea size of all the colours and I have all my favourite paints with me but they take nearly no space.

Holbein Gouache: an extra tube of white or any other colour I use a lot. 

Pentel brush pen: fill in the barell with water and no fluff with finding the jar/water, whip it out of the bag and you are ready to paint.

Blackwing Pencil

Pencil Sharpener

Eraser

Caran d'Ache Luminance 6901 Pencils: I enjoy adding some texture and patterns using these pencils

Nahe plastic pouch: they come in different sizes and shapes and perfect to keep all the art supplies and sketchbook in one place. I have one A5 size to put everything in and then a smaller one for pencils, paints, brushes.

Sketchbook one of my favourites is Daler & Rowney Ebony in A5 size. But I love MARK + FOLD (really lovely thin paper but it takes so much paint).

My Travel Guide to Ghent

I first heard of Ghent when I was reading about Ghent Altarpiece and Jan van Eyck, second time I've heard about Ghent when my sister told me she is moving there.

 
 

I was lucky enough to visit Ghent 4 times in the last 3 years and had excellent tour guides (my sister and her Ghentian boyfriend). 

Ghent is one of the largest cities in Belgium (Flemish Region) and it is also the cutest (obviously my subjective opinion). Around 10-15 years ago it wasn't one the tourist map but now it's called a hidden gem. And it is a gem indeed but not so hidden anymore. 

In July the city is at it's busiest as they are hosting Ghent Jazz Festival. There are a lot of universities, art schools and Conservatorium, so lots of students and art which adds to a really nice atmosphere. Apparently it's the only European city with a socialist mayor and residents are super happy (it seems) about the way and quality of life. It's big enough to have all the fantastic things like music scene, art, concerts, exhibitions, places to eat and drink but also it's small enough to be affordable, the town has it's own herd of sheep which roam freely by the canals, central Ghent is accessible only by public transport and bikes (so no traffic jams, no parked cars in awkward places). 

 
 

Ghent has such wonderful atmosphere, it's stunning, beautiful old buildings by the canals, after every turn you can find a postcard worthy view, everything is a little slower, no one is rushing anywhere, people stroll and cycle leisurely, drink coffee, beer, talk, it feels that the city is for people to enjoy life and the city itself. It's big enough that after visiting it 4 times I feel like I just started exploring the place and would love to come back and see more. People are kind and lovely. Here are some of the things to do in Ghent.

St. Bavo's Cathedral (yes, you guessed it. To see Adoration of the Mystic Lamb // Ghent Altarpiece! The Cathedral is so beautiful inside too, absolutely a must visit).

Museum of Fine Arts

S.M.A.K Municipal Museum of Modern Art

Design Museum

Huis Van Alijn Museum of things that (n)ever pass (it is adorable museum and I really enjoyed visiting it)

Het Belfor van Ghent

DOK

Explore Patershol area (so so so beautiful, full of beautiful tiny houses, nooks and crannies)

Take a boat tour, the city looks even cuter from the boat

Cycle around. Ghent is a cyclist paradise. You can cycle along the canals or around the city. 

Definitely eat some waffles (c'mon, I had to say it, right?!)

Try Ghent Noses (sweets which are sold on a square by the Castle). Ghent noses are a local delicacy, super sweet sweets. ;) They are sold by two vendors (in adorable green carts) and some time ago the rivalry peaked over who's noses were better or who could be in a slightly better spot ended up in an actual fight and it's the funniest story (I've heard it from Warre, my sisters boyfriend, and as I was googling to confirm the details came across this little video, it's so sweet!)

Try some beer (Belgian beer is delicious and selection is enormous)

Have some fries 🍟

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Moor&Moor - excellent coffee, adorable shop, yummy food

Full Circle ☕️

ORcoffee ghent ☕️

Peaberry Coffee Bar ☕️

Barrazza 🍻  has seating  by the canal and some tables inside (with the same wonderful view) and fairy lights (one of the loveliest spots for an evening drink)

't Gouden Mandeke 🍻 by the canal if the weather is fab, or inside if less so. 

I must say that if you are after a view and a drink, Ghent has so many beautiful places, I'm sure you'll stumble upon many of them.

Balls & Glory 🍝  meatballs & veggie alternatives

Souplounge cheap and soup (soup! :)

Uncle Babe's  if a 🍔 is your thing

Eat some fries (🍟 THEY ARE THE MOST DELICIOUS FRIES//CHIPS IN THE WORLD, OK?!)

All the flea markets

Koperhuis one of the cutest interior design shops I've visited (next to Huis van Alijn) and just across the canal of Barrazza

Dille & Kamille small chain of kitchen (and some household) goods, must visit, the cutest, I dare you to leave the shop without buying anything

Schleiper (Art Supplies Store) 🎨✏️

Ydee Design Shop very cute design shop, next door to the Art Supplies store, Moor&Moor, Balls & Glory and Dille and Kamille. 

Last but not least is bij' De Vieze Gasten is a community cultural centre (please correct me if I'm wrong). The cutest little cafe with delicious food, beautiful yard with trees and mosaic, concerts and THE MOST AMAZING THRIFTSHOP! Don't get me started on it. Furniture, books, kitchenware, clothing, everyyything! I left with three scarves and a handmade skirt for €4, my sister left with a dress, skirt, couple of shirts, cardigan and a creamer for €15 (geometric, colour, bold, cheap!). I would highly recommend stopping by if you are at least into one of these things.

Sleepstreet (one day I'll stay here, for sure! Just look how adorable this place is!)

Cute place with gorgeous views

Convent

Room in an old house (which I actually stayed in) it's central, building is super old and full of character and I'm pretty sure the house was haunted (ok, maybe not but still).

And while you are enjoying your time in Ghent or dreaming of enjoying time in Ghent, full of beer and fries, watch this wonderful BBC documentary The High Art of the Low Countries

Enjoy your trip! ;)

Illustrated Wish list: Jumpsuits

Happyyyy 1st of June! Sun is shining, it's warm outside, peonies are in full bloom and it's time to take out all the cute summer outfits and maybe add new ones to the warderobe?! I'm a huge fan of jumpsuits, they look gorgeous, you can cycle and run and jump in them and.. did I say they look gorgeous? I am on a hunt for an ultimate summer jumpsuit and here are some of my picks.

I love this jumpsuit because of the massive ruffle (I'm really into this ruffle trend, so cute!) and incredibly fun to draw. And the pattern is just adorable, colour is practical for all the running around, lying on the grass and spilling a bit of iced coffee.

While we are on the subject of ruffles, this one shoulder piece looks amazing and it seems to be so comfortable and perfect for summer days. The ruffle is so big that even ladies with big breasts can pull it off without a bra and feel comfy (I'm gonna be real here, I am not a big fan of summer outfits which can't be worn with bras, however I'm totally into this idea if I can go without a bra but my chest will be covered with a faaabulous ruffle and I won't feel uncomfortable). 

I adore this little jumpsuit with sleeves (mini ruffles, I AM SO SORRY I REALLY LIKE THEM). The length is short and cute and the pattern is flowery but without being too busy.

Ok, I promise it's the last ruffle. They are wayyy too fun to draw. This jumpsuit looks just sooo comfy, casual and cute.

Last but not least! Super beautiful jumpsuit with polka dot overload and straps on the back so you can wear a bra under it, yayyy! If I had this jumpsuit all I would do is eat cherries, run in the fields with my imaginary dog, doodle by the river bank and cycle to the local shop to buy baguettes and wine. 

What's on your wish list?

Hope you all are enjoying sunny summer days! 

Black and White Sketchbook

Heey,

How are you? What's new?

All is good here. Today I finished a sketchbook, wooop woop! I normally have several sketchbooks for different things (and also because I will go half way and then delay finishing it and will start a new one, oops).

black and white sketchbook

I started this A6 Daler and Rowney (Ebony, hard cover) sketchbook in October 2016 purely for black and white doodles. But quite soon I realised (once again) that A6 is a bit too small for me to have a sense of play and really explore different techniques. I tend to buy these tiny baby sketchbooks because they look cute and then end up not really using them as much as other sizes.

I find that when I give myself some restrictions and boundaries I have more fun and learn more from the process. So this time I decided to challenge the thing which I thought was so important to my work..  C O L O U R 

I love working with colour and paint but for this sketchbook I decided to use only black and white tools. So it was one of these sketchbooks which was by the sofa or by the side of my bed when I fancied a little doodle. I tried to concentrate on lines and simple shapes for this sketchbook. 

I used pentel re fillable brush pen (one of my favourite tools)

Pentel brush pen in grey and black. The nib in this brush pen is much bigger and gives an opportunity for big washes and lots of texture. It's very flexible and variety of line is impressive, it can be very thin and delicate for tiny details or be very wide and expressive with lots of texture and energy.

Winsor & Newton Black Indian Ink

Blackwing Pencil (my favourite pencil!)

Daler Rowney Ebony Sketchbook (A6)

black and white sketchbook

Here is how this sketchbook turned out, these are the spreads I had the most fun drawing. 

Watch full sketchbook video below.

Inspiration. Part 2: PLAY

Scheduling playtime is sooo important for me and for my work! I'm one of these people who gets caught up in the hustle very quickly so if I don't plan an evening off, a meeting with friends, yoga class, food shopping or creative playtime/experimentation I actually might talk myself out of it for sake of admin or something. Are you guys suffering from severe hustling/multitasking syndrome too? 

But this weekend I actually managed to schedule some play time and stick with it (actually I had a cold.. so it wasn't optional!). A fantastic reminder that in order to create interesting work and keep developing we must have fun, play, experiment and let gooooooo! 

Here is my playtime work and kind of answer to where the ideas come from. 🖌

First I had a “great” idea for a painting and painted two girls on pink background and it was a failure, destroyed all evidence (oops) and then I had some pink 🌸 painted paper left so I just decided to doodle based on loose warm up I did the other day, where I painted on huge scale (well, for me) and with no sketch/pencil line. Just a girls portrait.

 

Recently I work mainly with gouache.  For these paintings I used greens from Winsor & Newton and beautiful pinks from Holbein

I usually paint over a pencil sketch so painting without a plan or a sketch was suuuper fun! And I kind of tried to simplify the lines, sometimes my work gets way too busy and I don’t know where to stop and I am huge fan of Matisse and how he can describe so much movement, feeling & story by beautiful and minimal lines, colours and shapes, so was just trying to apply that to my work (with final drawing it didn’t really reflect though 😊)). I got some incredible art books recently and I try to see what things I like and how can I apply them to my work. In this photo you can see Henri Matisse Cut-Outs book (it's beauuuutiful!).

Here is finished line work experiment.

And then I've combined the lines with some shapes and colours in another pink painting! 🌸🖌🌸🖌🌸 

The floral woman on the left is called Matilda and woman in pink on the right is called Henrietta (You see what I did there?... with Henri Matisse being the inspiration? I'm horrible at coming up with names, so here we go!).

These originals are for sale at  Studio 73  Gallery in Brixton.

These originals are for sale at Studio 73 Gallery in Brixton.

Hope you enjoyed seeing more from behind the scenes and a bit of an insight how my process works! and where ideas come from! Where do yours come from?

Let's talk about gouache!

First I used gouache when I was a young kid in school, painting mainly still life. I really loved the texture and feel of the paint then and I still do now. I had a bit of a break from gouache (15 years) but so happy to be using it again.

I absolutely love the consistency of gouache, it can be used as dry medium, layered heavily or watered down to watercolour consistency, it's very fun paint to play with, it can be opaque and mat, it can be translucent, even the lightest colours can cover the darkest paint (like dark blue and light yellow!) and it simply feels great to paint with! :)

There are many great brands out there but here are some of my favourite ones.

Here are the paints I use:

Holbein Gouache

I bought a beautiful set of 18 tubes Holbein Gouache as a present for my birthday last year, it's a bit pricey but absolutely worth the money. Set has a fantastic selection of all colours, including cold and warm hues of yellow, green, red, blue and also black and white. It's a great set and even though the tubes are smaller than tubes sold individually they last a long time. 

After trying Holbein Gouache in the set I went and stocked up on some colours which I adore and use a lot in my work and which were missing from the set (like baby pink, mint and wilder shades of blue), the tubes are much bigger and last for a while, they are crazy cute too! The best place to buy them from is Jackson's Art (if you are UK based). Holbein offer wonderful selection of colours for all tastes and colour preferences. The quality is exceptional and I would recommend anyone who doubts to give these beauties a go.

Winsor and Newton are great quality gouache paints. And because they are UK brand they are a bit cheaper and easier to get hands on! So I have my favourite colours from Winsor and Newton and from Holbein. They can be combined and the texture is very similar. So mixing and matching is super fun! :)

Gouache is very stick and not that easy to wash out of brushes and I go through a lot of brushes. I keep all of them because when they get all fluffy and naughty they are absolutely amazing for adding texture with dry gouache! I choose the cheapest round brushes (synthetic) similar to these Jacksons Art brushes . But my local Jackson's Art has a corner with cheap (£1/£2 synthetic brushes and I just stock up on them, so I would recommend checking out your local store to find what works for you and maybe they have some brushes on offer).

When I paint with gouache I prefer using hot pressed watercolour paper. My two favourite brands are Bockingford & Fabriano. Both very smooth & velvety, heavy papers with excellent colour representation.

I hope I inspired you to get out those gouache paints and paint or even maybe try gouache for the first time! It's a beautiful type of paint, easy to use, not messy and an absolute joy to paint with!

Are you gouache person? Yay nay? What do you like/not like? Please let me know if you have any Q or share your experience in the comments :) 

Getting real on Ig :)

Here is probably the longest instagram post ever but I really wanted to publish it here too, for any of you who might stumble on it later. ;)

Getting real on IG! Couple of days ago talented illustrator @marloesdevee shared her story couple of days ago about where she came from and how long it takes to get somewhere and I was really inspired to share my story and hear more & full versions of your stories too! I absolutely love @instagram but it sure can give you a very skewed perception of reality. We think some people just pop up quickly but often there is A LOT of work behind it. Here is my long version of a story.. 

***************

Here is a video taken by my Dad, I’m 5 years old and obsessed by the fact that I was allowed to play with this massive set of colour pencils (lady who owned it is a designer)! I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember and I always loved drawing and was really encouraged by my family to express my creativity. At the age of 8 I went to art school, three times a week after normal school, we were taught art history, composition, painting, drawing and other subjects. I attended art school pretty much till I was 19 (with maybe 3 years break in teenage years when I decided not to draw ever again ;))). After graduating from art school and highschool I went on to study visual communication at University of Bedfordshire. It was a combined course with graphic designers and illustrators, it was fun experience and our teachers tried to make us experiment and explore. However for the last two years of the course we didn’t have an illustration tutor but guest illustration collective (trust me, sounds awesome but not the same thing :). After graduating in 2009 I ended up working in retail. It was in the middle of recession and I was lucky to land ANY job. But as time went by I couldn’t find any illustration work, any creative work, no side gigs, absolutely nothing. My fire started to fizzle and my dream of becoming and illustrator and drawing for a living from an inspiration and power and motivation became my frustration. It took me around 3 years to finally get the courage to make a leap, quit a full time job, find part time job and start figuring things out. It took me at least half a year to get to the grips before I started working on my etsy shop and I came up with a plan. That if I couldn’t find any creative work, I’ll try and make some work for myself. In 2013 I became full time self employed. And even though it’s a dream job it’s not an easy one. It can be financially stressful, also mentally challenging. I really want to draw more, I dream of one day illustrating a book and having an exhibition of my girls. It’s a journey and I have so many places I want to go with my work and sometimes admin takes over, sometimes running your own business has so many aspects there is not that much time to draw. So here it is.. a very long story and a bit of reality check from what’s happening behind cute pictures. I would love to know yours! What do you do? Where you come from? Where do you want to go? What would you like to share with the world?

<3 <3 <3

 

#gettingrealonIG

A Day Out in Kensington, Design Museum & The Churchill Arms

 

Yay! New and gorgeous Design Museum is open! 

I loved visiting the old one behind Tower Bridge but it was a bit small and kind of felt that Design Museum needed more space to show off all the awesome things.

So the new Design Museum is big and absolutely stunning! Design Museum took over abandoned Commonwealth institute in Kensington, next to Holland Park and Kensington High St. The building looks amazing from the outside but once you enter it takes your breath away. It's spacious, interesting, colourful and bright! 

On the day we visited Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World & Beazley Designs of the Year as well as their permanent display Designer Maker User. WE ABSOLUTELY LOVED ALL OF THEM! My favourite has to be Beazley Designs of the Year, completely blew my mind of how many interesting, beautiful and smart designs and things happen in this world! 

As we were in that area we decided to pop into The Churchill Arms for a drink, I've passed it so many times and never entered! It's probably the most photographed pub in London, you know, the one covered in flowers! ;) And during festive season it's covered in Christmas Trees! 

Inside didn't disappoint too, really cosy and absolutely crazy interior, with all sorts of objects hanging from the ceiling and walls, with some Churchill memorabilia of course. Super tiny bar with great selection of drinks and super sweet staff. They also have a restaurant! It looked incredibly cosy and equally crazy decorated! 

And by the way if you sign up for The Churchill Arms newsletter you get a code for a free drink, thank you very much! :)

 

 

You can walk to Design Museum from Earls Court, Holland Park Tube Station, High St Kensington or Notting Hill. You can also cycle there or hire a bicycle and have a nice park ride. Visit Holland Park & Kyoto Garden (it's beautiful!), pop in to Churchill Arms for a drink, walking distance to Notting Hill, all the museums at South Kensington or Serpentine in Hyde Park. 

Watercolour & Ink Portrai

I've been drawing live portraits at events for over a year now and it took me some time to figure out which materials work best and produce the most striking results in 10-15 minutes, dry super fast, are small and portable. 

Here are my tools for live drawing:

Fabriano Hot Pressed Paper or Cass Art Watercolour Paper

Palomino Pencil

Kuretake Brush Pen or Pentel Brush Pen (both fabulous brush pens)

Carbon Ink (fill in the old cartridges)

carbon ink cartridges (they will fit any brush pen, it did all of mine 

Kuretake Watercolours (set of 36)

Fine Tec Metallic Watercolours

Schminke Burnt Sienna

Raphael Brush

Kuretake Water Brush Pen

And this is how it all looks in action! :)

 

 

Watercolour Portrait Painting Workshop

Around a month ago I taught first Watercolour Painting Workshop. I've done other types before but never with watercolours.

I chose to teach with Kuretake watercolour set because it's my favourite set of watercolours and I truly believe they are one of the best on the market. Selection of 36 beautiful colours, all vibrant and really beautiful pigments. What I loooove love LOVE about this set is that they have an amazing selection of reds, yellows, greens, blues but also some really shiny metallics, YUM! 

The workshop was held in a beautiful photography studio, with one wall of windows so there is A LOT OF LIGHT and it is such a joy to be painting in such a beautiful and light space. It makes all the difference, especially this time of the year, when it's so dark outside and not enough natural light to paint.

It was an absolute pleasure to teach the workshop to a such fantastic bunch of people and to see how people approached the same subjects, used the same materials and the way everyone worked.

It was an interesting mixture of complete beginners, professional illustrators and designers and people who paint for joy. 

The results were sooooo different! There were all sorts of techniques and approaches and a lot of beautiful colours & patterns and I really loved everyones work. 

Next workshop is on the 3rd of December in the same studio full of light. We'll be using Kuretake Watercolours, brush pens, cold pressed water colour paper. For more information and to purchase the ticket, click here.

I would love to meet you and paint with you!